TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Re: Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

Scott Dorsey (
16 Jun 2005 14:03:03 -0400

Fred Atkinson <> wrote:

> On 13 Jun 2005 12:07:36 -0700, wrote:

>> Certainly some very trashy books have been and continue to be
>> published and distributed. But I dare say it is harder for one to
>> find such trashy books in normal channels than it is for one to find
>> trashy stuff on the Internet. Finding paper copies of hardcore
>> material requires some effort and some material may not be available
>> to children; but that stuff is freely available on the Internet.

> Is it really harder [to find trashy books]? Have you ever visited a
> pornographic book store? If not, do you deny they are out there or
> what kind of books are distributed? Have you ever seen 'The People
> versus Larry Flynt'?

As a person who, as an adolescent, was very interested in trashy
books, I can say that it is indeed much harder for the average high
school student to find pornography than it is to go to their local

On the other hand, I can also say that as an adolescent it was easier
for me to find pornography than a coherent explanation of
electromagnetic fields and how antennas really work. My school
library was lacking in both respects.

>> My concern is that there is a lot of garbage masquerading as fact on
>> the Internet. The controls that exist on other printed matter do not
>> exist and the unscrupulous take advtg of that. (For instance, I
>> learned long ago that many sites pulled up by a search engine are
>> actually porn sites loaded with common key words to trigger a hit.)
>> People have put up health-information sites and claimed to be a doctor
>> when after some careful reading it proved to be garbage.

> And there's a lot of stuff published by hate groups and other
> extremists, too. Do we give up freedom of speech to keep this stuff
> from being disseminated?

I don't think it's a freedom of speech issue at all, in part because
kids are a special case. I think that restricting stuff published by
hate groups is a bad thing in general, but restricting it to
elementary school kids is not a bad thing.

There are a lot of materials that kids shouldn't have access to
without some outside assistance to show them what is valid and what
isn't, and therefore I think giving kids unrestricted network access
in school is a bad thing.

The thing is that the network _is_ a place of complete free speech,
where anyone can say anything without regard to truth, and this is a
bad thing for kids who haven't yet learned how to filter what is true
and what is not. (On the other hand, with proper supervision, it can
be an excellent way for them to learn about how to filter).

You could make the argument to block the sites about the Cross-Field
Antenna, since the explanation of E-field behaviour on them is
incorrect too. There are a lot of incorrect things on the net and
kids (and adults) need to learn to distinguish them. But until they
have learned, I can understand the need to restrict things somewhat.

> And it goes back to not believing everything you read or hear. Kids
> have to learn to balance it sometime. Depriving them of that
> information robs them of the chance to learn to decide for themselves.

This is true, but they _need_ supervision to learn to decide this.
And sadly that is the thing that is most missing in school situations

> When my mother taught English, she was called into the principal's
> office one day and asked if 'The Scarlet Letter' was actually on her
> approved reading list. She said that it was. The principal was
> shocked. Then she asked him if he'd ever read 'The Scarlet Letter'.
> His reply was that he had not. Hmm. And he believed that kids
> shouldn't be reading it? Based upon having never read it himself?

> And what about schools that took books like that off the library
> shelves? What about Huckleberry Finn? Tom Sawyer? And the list goes
> on and on? With Mark Twain's writing style as it was, it would be be
> considered quite racist by today's standards. Do we censor it? Of
> course not.

No, but we explain it when we teach it, and we don't just hand it out
to kids without explanation. (Well, hopefully ... I have seen some
English classes that weren't much better than that).

But then, I got in big trouble for refusing to read James Fenimore
Cooper in school, and for citing Twain as a source for my belief that
he was no good as a writer.

> Are we really protecting the kids when we deprive them of the
> opportunity to learn to decide for themselves? Or are we going to
> have to protect them from it all their lives? And if they don't
> learn, who's going to protect *their* kids? And what about when we
> pass on and leave them to their own judgement?

You can't completely protect kids, and I agree that current society
goes quite out of control in an attempt to protect kids. But unless
kids have supervision, they aren't going to learn to decide anyway.

> If the kids don't learn about radio theory, how could they learn to
> tell that this information is wrong? These people obviously never
> had. So depriving them of access to information about ham radio on
> QSL Net (most of which is written by people who have been examined by
> the FCC and found to have a reasonable understanding of radio theory)
> is a 'good thing'? I don't think so.

Certainly depriving them of access to QSL.NET is a bad thing, and an
example of terrible misuse of filtering.

But depriving them of access to sites talking about the danger of
electromagnetic radiation damaging your psychic aura is probably a
reasonable use of filtering.


"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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